Taking the Stress Out of Christmas Gift-Giving
By: Beth McHugh 2006
Underlying all the worry about what to give to who for Christmas, how much to spend, and the significance of the gifts you receive from others, is love. At Christmas, most people just want to be acknowledged and recognized, and to know they are loved by their family and friends.
Don’t have much money?
Don’t let a lack of cash stress you out. The best gifts are the ones that show that the giver is really aware of the needs in another person’s life. If you want to give the best Christmas present, then take time out during the year to pick up on those little cues that people let out about things that they need in their lives. Or you may observe that a friend or family member could really do with a particular item. Store this information away and surprise them at Christmas with a gift that shows that you not only love them, but you recognize and hear them as a person.
Sometimes the best gift is to offer your services or to take someone out for a regular outing for the following year. These are inexpensive gifts. They cost nothing but your time, but they are the best gift of all. One of my clients, in an attempt to reconcile with her estranged father, gave her father a Christmas card with a note inside promising to ring him every Friday for the coming year. As father and daughter hadn’t been in contact for some time, this was a most welcome gift for the father, who had missed his daughter terribly. But, as with most unselfish acts, the real gift was for the daughter, who received a sense of calmness and peace of mind that she hadn’t experienced for years. Again, gifts don’t get much better than that.
What are you really doing at Christmas?
Christmas is supposed to be a Christian festival, but many nominated Christians don’t adhere to traditional church services or make any reference to the original meaning of Christmas. For those that do, there is little problem. But if you’ve left the original meaning of Christmas behind, what is it that you are celebrating?
Make your Christmas more special by imbuing the day with your own special meaning. You could make a focus on family, on peace on earth, on being thankful for having friends and family to share food and gifts with. But try to create some meaning that is real for you. By injecting your own spiritual value into the day, you will feel less stressed and also less liable to fall into the financial abyss that often surrounds Christmas gift giving.
Buying more and more presents does not make for a happier day or a happier child. Tangible things, such as gifts, are much less potent entities that intangible beliefs, meanings, and emotions. If positive emotions surround your Christmas day, it will be remembered in years to come as a happy day. A day filled with too many toys, playthings (both for adults and children), too many clothes, and a big monetary crisis when it all has to be paid for is not what Christmas is meant to be about, either from a Christian or atheist viewpoint.
Make Christmas special for you, not your bank manager!